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Ford Museum to display nationally-acclaimed Civil Rights art to honor Black History Month

"The Continual Struggle" is a 23-piece exhibit that vividly recalls the Civil Rights Movement. It starts Feb. 20.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — February is Black History Month and to recognize the contributions of Black Americans, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum will host a special exhibit by a nationally-acclaimed artist started later this month.

“The Continual Struggle: The American Freedom Movement and the Seeds of Social Change,” is a 23-piece exhibit by Brian Washington. It's an ongoing body of artwork that documents the Civil Rights Movement and the historical struggle of segregation and other race-based injunctions. 

"The Continual Struggle" opens on Feb. 20 at the Ford Museum.

"With this exhibit, I hope to elicit the raw emotions from the atrocities African Americans struggled with in years past and bring them to the forefront in today’s cultural lessons,” Washington said in a press release from the museum. “I want people who see ‘The Cultural Struggle’ to come away with a renewed sense of empathy and humility for those who came before us.”

In 2003, Washington’s 11-piece first-edition series, formally titled “The Continual Struggle: The Civil Rights Movement – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” was acquired in its entirety by the Smithsonian Institution, and placed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian-affiliated National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Credit: Courtesy of the Ford Museum
Nationally-acclaimed artist Brian Washington's art will be displayed at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in honor of Black History Month.

Thirteen years later, Washington's second edition of "The Continual Struggle", titled "The Continual Struggle: The American Freedom movement and the Seeds of Social Change,” opened at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, Texas.

In 1976, President Ford expanded Black History Week into the full month of February, stating the United State needed  to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."

“With President Ford’s notion to expand Black History Week to an entire month-long proclamation, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation is honored to display Brian Washington’s critically-acclaimed masterpiece,” said Elain Didier, director, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and  Museum.

“The Continual Struggle” will be on display Feb. 20 through May 31. In honor of Black History Month, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum will be free to public on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23, as well as Feb.29 and March 1.   

RELATED: Warrior dog exhibit opens at Ford Museum this month


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